It’s been a while since I blogged about my mental health. I have been adopting different coping strategies after my previous ones had failed to work. Checking your crisis plan (or WRAP) on regular occasions is very important.
I have shifted support from various people, as relationships change, and find myself seeking words of encouragement and understanding from a small support group of non cis males, some of whom have become good friends. I have grown as a person having them around.
I have changed medication, which has helped me to make the transition in my self care, it’s worth being honest with your GP and if something is not working for you, tell them.
My new self care strategies look at removing the negativity misting my thoughts and finding self preservation.
Firstly, I end each day looking back and finding three positives from it. Sometimes this is really easy, especially if I’ve had a good day, I could probably reel off more. Other times, I really struggle, and this is when finding those positives is really important. I have chosen to do this on social media, because I know I am very likely to forget, make excuses and stop altogether. Sharing my positives with my Facebook friends means I also am showing that no matter how crap my day has been, I will really try to focus away from those negatives. If you are prone to negative thinking, as I am, this is an exercise I have definitely found useful.
I bought a light therapy lamp. Seasonal changes in light intensity and duration really affect me. It is common in parts of the world with obvious changes in day length and season, and the North of England is no exception to this. So, in the morning, when I wake up, I spend at least thirty minutes sitting in front of my lamp. The benefits have been astounding. I wake easier, have energy and feel more revitalised during the day. If I forget, I really notice the difference. If you have seasonal affective disorder, light therapy is a very good tool to help you combat the effects of dark winter days.
I have a mood journal tracker, an app on my phone that prompts me randomly throughout the day to log how I am feeling. There is the option to take a selfie, which I use, tracking my mood and how I look has shown some correlation to my outlook. If I have showered, styled my hair and put on a pretty dress, you can guarantee I will smile more and feel much better. It may sound quite obvious, but when you have some elements of dysphoria about the way you look, finding tools that can counteract this is very important. I don’t feel pretty, I look in the mirror, I will not look pretty. But tracking my selfies, I can see that actually, how I smile, how I show emotion, how I carry myself changes my perception of myself. If I am in a good frame of mind, I generally look pretty and comfortable with myself, and this is important to know, I have that tool to change my mood simply by jumping in the shower and brushing my hair! It may be difficult on days where I have low mood, but now that the tracking is underway, I have visual evidence to counteract my dysphoria and negative thought.
I still struggle with being in my own company when I have hoped to be with others (not planned me time, that is different and expected). Ok, I feel let down, it triggers the idea that I will be alone always, I start ruminating, my mind races. People hate me, they have more fun without me, I’m going to be alone always, I don’t have a family to fall back on. It goes on. Getting stuck inside my head is hard, many of us struggle when voices take over and reason is brushed under the carpet, there are times it may feel like there is no escape, that maybe this is it, you’ve been kidding yourself all this time. But I have to find that strength from within. That strength is there because I have found it before. Take a look at those positive affirmations you read to yourself and believe them. All of those coping strategies I have put in place? They work.
It’s ok to be disappointed if plans don’t work out, that doesn’t mean people hate me. It’s ok to get upset when feeling alone, it’s human to want company. It’s ok to feel vulnerable and cry, it means I have feelings and empathy. It’s ok to be honest and speak about my mental health, because we all have it. It’s ok to think I am pretty when I’ve brushed my hair and smile, because I am. It’s ok to believe people enjoy my company, because I am fun and interesting to be around. I don’t have to be so hard on myself, it’s ok to feel.